Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Shingles facts
- What is shingles? What causes shingles?
- What are shingles symptoms and signs? How long does shingles last?
- How long is shingles contagious?
- How is shingles diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for shingles? Should I visit my health care professional?
- What are the complications of shingles?
- What is postherpetic neuralgia?
- Can shingles be prevented with a vaccine?
- What are potential side effects of the shingles vaccine?
- Is shingles dangerous in pregnant women?
- Test Your IQ: Take the Shingles Quiz
- Pictures of Shingles - Slideshow
- Pictures of Shingles
- Shingles (Herpes Zoster) FAQs
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
What are potential side effects of the shingles vaccine?
The shingles vaccine has not been shown to cause any serious side effects or health consequences. Minor side effects include redness, soreness, swelling, or itching at the shot site, and headache. It is safe for those who have received the shingles vaccine to be around babies or those with weakened immune systems. It has not been demonstrated that a person can develop chickenpox from getting the shingles vaccine, although some people who receive the vaccine may develop a mild chickenpox-like rash near the injection site. This rash should be kept covered and will disappear on its own.
Since the chickenpox vaccine is now recommended for children, the incidence of chickenpox has been reduced. This is also expected to reduce the incidence of shingles in adults in the future as these vaccinated children age.
Is shingles dangerous in pregnant women?
Pregnant women are susceptible to shingles, but fortunately, shingles in pregnancy is very rare. The antiviral medications described above are considered safe to use in pregnant women, as are most pain-relieving drugs. In the later stages of pregnancy, women should not take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve). However, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is considered safe even in the late stages of pregnancy.
The shingles vaccine should not be administered to pregnant women. It is recommended that a woman wait three months before trying to become pregnant after she has received the shingles vaccine.
Having chickenpox during pregnancy has the potential to cause birth defects, depending upon when in the pregnancy the infection occurs. The risk of birth defects is believed to be lower with shingles than with primary chickenpox infection. If you do not know if you have had chickenpox, a blood test can determine whether you have antibodies (immune protection) against the virus. Those who received the chickenpox vaccine as well as those who have previously had chickenpox will have antibodies in their blood that are directed against the VZV virus.
Previous contributing author: Frederick Hecht, MD, FAAP, FACMG
Additional resources from WebMD Boots UK on Shingles
Eastern, Joseph S. "Herpes Zoster." Medscape.com. Oct. 25, 2010. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1132465-overview>.
Krause, Richard S. "Herpes Zoster." eMedicine.com. Nov. 23, 2009. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/788310-overview>.
Miravalle, Augusto A. "Ramsay Hunt Syndrome." eMedicine.com. Aug. 20, 2009. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1166804-overview>.
"Shingles During Pregnancy." WebMD Medical Reference. July 10, 2009. <http://www.webmd.com/baby/shingles-during-pregnancy>.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccination." Jan. 19, 2012. <http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/shingles/default.htm>.
United States. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Zostavax (Herpes Zoster Vaccine) Questions and Answers." May 1, 2009. <http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/QuestionsaboutVaccines/UCM070418>.
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